It is now more than a month since the federal police, an elite police force set up last year with the main aim of combating internal dissent, occupied the University City and arrested more then 800 members of the students' General Strike Committee.
Since then the situation has been very tense. The government has not been able to stop the movement and there have been a number of mass demonstrations, rallies, partial strikes, etc. There are actions everyday demanding freedom for the arrested students. This shows that the government is far from achieving the "peace and tranquility" it expected by using repression.
The government has also made parcial concessions to the students' demands and at the same time has kept the main leaders of the movement in jail. Thus, university fees have been introduced but at a very low rate of 15 pence. So the students are still fighting for their demands at the same time as fighting for the release of the jailed student activists.
There are still 150 students in jail and they are only being released with very expensive bails which sometime amount to two years of the average wage (50,000 pesos which is more or less 5,000 dollars).
On the other hand the police closed all the offices which the student organisations had in the schools and confiscated all their equipment (loud speakers, printing presses, etc). It is clear that the authorities are making some concessions in order to weaken the movement and at the same time are trying to smash the organisations of the students.
Despite these diffcult conditions, on March 10th, a months after the arrest of the Strike Committee, more than 20,000 students marched through the northern part of the capital and sorrounded the jail where the arrested students are being held. The students inside the jail also organised a simultaneous march and started to shout slogans. To the astonishment of the authorities they were joined by some of the other prisioners.
This march showed that the movement is far from being finished and has the capacity to reorganise itself.
This is why the Students Committee to Defend State Education (CEDEP) which was set up during the struggle, has launched a solidarity campaign with the Mexican students movement, and at the same time is trying to coordinate the different actions being organised.
The students have the support of the workes and the people who live in the poor neighbourhoods in Mexico City, but the blow has been a strong one and solidarity is more needed than ever. The main priorities of the movement now are the struggle for the release of the incarcerated students, to defend the concessions we have won and to defend the the students organisations against the authorities.
We are organising meetings in all schools, trade union branches and workplaces to explain the situation and raise funds for the legal defence of the students.
We make an appeal to all trade union and student organisations in the world to participate in this campaign. The struggle of the Mexican students against privatisation of higher education and to defend free access to university is not different from the struggle of workers and youth in other countries against privatisations, cuts in public spending, etc. We need the maximum unity and solidarity between workers and youth from different countries to defeat our enemies.Solidarity with the Mexican students movement! Yours in struggle, Students Committee to Defend Public Education
Messages of protest can be sent to:Gobierno de Mexico: S.E. Dr. Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon, Presidente de la Republica, Palacio Nacional, C.P. 06065, Mexico, D.F., Mexico Fax (+ 52 5) 515 57 29 o/or 516 57 62
C. Lic. Francisco Labastida Ochoa, Secretario de Gobernacion, Secretaria de Gobernacion, Bucareli 99, 2do piso, Col. Juarez, Mexico, D.F., Mexico, Fax (+ 52 5) 546 53 50 o/or 547 03 21 email@example.com
with copies to the newspaper La Jornada
and to Comite Estudiantil en Defensa de la Educacion Publica
In Britain cheques should be made payable to International Solidarity Club and sent to:
PO Box 2626,
London N1 7SQ
(please write on the back "for Mexican Students Legal Defence Fund")